Cleaning Up Your Life (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Review)

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a Netflix original series, is focused on changing lives through the power of cleaning up. Marie Kondo is the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up where she explains her “KonMari” method (a combination of her first and last names, meaning that this system is uniquely developed by Kondo herself). This series puts that method, and her book, into action as she meets with families in their homes and helps guide them through it.

I immediately loved this series and watched through all the episodes (only eight of them!) in about three days. Kondo is the smallest, sweetest, cutest person I’ve probably ever seen. I loved her personality and also her attitude towards cleaning. She focuses on a few important ideas in the tidying process that make all the difference: gratitude, joy, and moving forward.

Let’s dive into the KonMari method for a second. The KonMari method is about tidying by category, rather than location. These five categories are:

1) Clothes

2) Books

3) Papers

4) Komono (Miscellaneous) items (this is the kitchen, bathroom, and garage)

5) Sentimental (The last and usually most difficult category).

Kondo highly recommends proceeding through these steps in this exact order so that by the time you get to your sentimental items at the end of the process you are much more adept at knowing which items spark joy. She also mentions that this keeps you from getting stuck as you keep going.

When beginning the process, gather all of these items (like your clothes, for example) and put them all together in one place in a big pile. This allows you to really see the amount of stuff you have. Pick up each item individually and hold it. If that item sparks joy for you (as Kondo says, you should feel something like “Ching!” or a literal rush of happiness when you touch it) keep it. If you don’t feel joy, say “thank you” to the item and let it go. (Throw it away or give it away). If there is an item you don’t know about you can ask yourself further questions like, “Is this something I use?” “Is this something I want to take with me into my future?”

Ching!

One of the things I loved most is the inherit gratitude in this process. It reminds you to be thankful for what you have and even for the things you are getting rid of. Even things you don’t need or want have still taught you something or been useful to you before. Eliminating the unnecessary items in our crowded lives and houses make us truly appreciative and grateful for the things we really need, use, and love. It changes our perspective on “stuff” from just things that clutter up our homes to unique, important, and special things that we love to be around. Kondo herself seems to have a strong inner sense of peace that I think comes from extending gratitude towards every item in her life.

Another key piece of this process is joy. Kondo emphasizes that we should only keep items that bring us joy or happiness. By honing this recognition of what brings us joy we can reprioritize our lives. I think it also helps us better understand who we really are. A quote by Dolly Parton expresses this idea very well. She said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” (Thanks, Dumplin (yet another awesome Netflix original movie)). By discovering what we love we find out who we are and who we want to become. We become stronger by having that knowledge.

Finally, Kondo mentions moving forward. She often asks her clients to picture the space and life they want for themselves. One of the episodes I liked the best centered on a widow who was cleaning up her house after her husband died. Obviously, she had a lot of sentimental value attached to her husband’s things. Kondo gently asked her what things she wanted to take with her. There is no wrong answer here, it falls to the individual to decide what kind of life they want (and the kind of things they want to fill it).

As for the structure of the show itself, each episode included specific tips on storage, cleaning, and tidying. For example, what is the best way to store children’s toys? Or how should you best organize a kitchen utensil drawer? These tips are included as well as a focus on walking through the process. It was clear throughout the show that different people struggled more with different stages of the process. Each stage is given more or less screen time based on how each person moved through it. Since there were eight episodes, each of the steps got plenty of time given to it and various tips on getting through it.

Overall, I highly recommend this show. I thought it was very motivational- I definitely went on a cleaning spree after watching! I also loved the variety of families Netflix included. They were different races, different sexualities, and at different life stages. These families made this show perfect to speak into the mess of each of our varied lives. Going through the tidying process can be difficult, but it’s worthwhile when it puts our lives and ourselves into better perspective.

Happy tidying!

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell: Review

christine mcconell

Netflix’s recent spooky additions during October this year included a baking show called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell.

Christine McConnell, the show’s main character and real-life baker, gained recognition as a self-taught baker who’s Instagram baking posts showcase her creepy (and delicious) desserts. Her show on Netflix is an interesting mix of baking how-to and spooky, puppet-filled plot.

I enjoyed the quirky, dark humor of the show and the subtle world-building. In fact, the two things this show does best are world-building and baking.

Watching this show will definitely make you hungry as you watch McConnell make her spooky (and delicious) creations. She makes everything from chocolate-peanut butter “bones” in the first episode to a cake replica of her house. Seriously. McConnell's house

10/10 for edible spooky houses.

She also makes some other craft projects throughout the course of the show, including items like this creepy candle with a face, and a stunning, hand-made red dress for a date. There’s no denying that McConnell is incredibly talented at making lovely, spooky-themed creations, both in real life and on this show. By taking the time to show how she makes these items, the mood tends to stay pretty light-hearted and relaxed.

creepy candle

The other thing Curious Creations does well is world-building. From set design to spooky characters, the world (and, specifically, the house) McConnell lives in is fascinating. The subtle layers of world building keep you guessing at the mysteries of this universe. How did McConnell come to live in this house? What is the rest of her family like? (To this question, we do see some answers in later episodes). How did all of these creatures come to be here? What or who is Christine McConnell exactly? And what kind of world does she live in? So many questions.

In one episode we see Christine in her bedroom, just waking up for the morning. It seems that she is “sleeping” with her eyes open, looking almost dead. This small detail gives interesting hints about the world of Curious Creations. I genuinely loved the idea of this creepy house and the kind-hearted, though dark and mysterious, woman who lives in it. I also love how she treats the creatures who live in her house like family, bring in the trope of the gathered-family and true warmth to their relationships and interactions.

McConell

From details like the spider-web cupboards to the reappearing skull (of a previous mailman, apparently) and all the creatures living around the house, world-building gets a 10/10 here. Quirky, spooky, and mysterious, Curious Creations aces this test.

On the other hand, while I enjoyed watching The Curious Creations, I did feel like it took its genre-breaking a little too far. In some ways, breaking the genre molds of typical baking shows and typical spooky shows is what makes Curious Creations so unique and fun. But breaking the genres like this comes with a price.

Curious Creations doesn’t fit very well in any genre. Is it a baking show? Yes, but it doesn’t give quite enough detail to become actually useful as a baking show. I felt that a few too many steps were jumped over in the recipes for anyone to actually try to follow along with unless they are a professional baker with professional tools. In an attempt to showcase McConnell’s creations to the fullest, the show jumps over a few too many minor steps to be a really good baking show.

Is this show a children’s show? The rating is PG, but some of the content seems a little bit too raunchy or scary to make it a really good children’s show.  I mean, serial killers welding axes does seem a little scarier than PG, and let’s not even talk about the time they tortured a neighbor in the basement. (I’m also not going to talk about my feelings on Rose (an undead raccoon) as a character. I understand that she was written to be obnoxious, but she crosses the line into highly annoying a few too many times for me to like her very much. I’m not sure she helps to make this a “kids show” either, although they might find her the funniest of all audiences.)

rose

Is it a fictional, spooky show with a plot? Technically yes, but the plot is left underdeveloped so the show can focus on the baking. I wish they would have given more screen time to some of the other quirky characters living in McConnell’s house and addressed more some of the other intriguing plot points. By always cutting back to the kitchen so McConnell can talk about baking, the plot felt like it was cut a little bit short.

Breaking these barriers leaves Curious Creations in a strange, new territory for a spooky show. Who is the intended audience for this show? Children? Parents and children together? Young adults looking for something slightly spooky? I can’t help but feel that all audiences will be left a little confused and disappointed by how this show has divided itself between baking and fiction.

Final Thoughts:

If you love baking and spooky shows you will enjoy this one! It has a lot of super interesting concepts surrounding it that add to the mood of the show and help make it truly unique and fun. I really enjoyed both Christine’s baking and the idea of her house, but I didn’t fall in love with the show itself.

It is still a really good show to watch to get in the spooky mood!

Happy watching!